China is the Top Destination for Global Business Relocation

Employee mobility remains essential for companies that wish to compete on a worldwide scale but in recent years the ways in which companies are deploying their resources has changed and now China has been named the most common employee relocation destination in the world in the 2012 Global Mobility Survey.

According to research published in the recent Global Mobility Report, emerging markets now represent the most common relocation destinations in the world for employees who reassigned overseas. Of these markets, China takes a clear lead with 21% of those surveyed revealing that it is the most common relocation destination.

However, while China may be popular, it also features alongside India, Russia and Brazil on the list of the most challenging locations for expatriates. “We may be at the beginning of a profound shift towards the growing economies and away from the stagnant ones,” the report states but goes on to warn that, while emerging markets are increasingly growing in popularity, they present significant challenges for expatriates as a result of the infrastructure, cultural differences and, in some cases, lack of security. However, despite the challenges, the report points out that many expatriates are lured to these countries as a result of the excitement that relocation to such emerging economies presents.

According to the report it is the lack of local talent that contributes to the demand for overseas talent in many of the emerging economies

The results of the survey clearly reveal that overseas assignments are continuing to grow and, of the companies surveyed, over 45% are expecting further growth in the next year. The increase in demand for employee relocation is being primarily driven by the expansion in operations of these countries and their “explosive expansion” into previously unexplored markets, the report says.

According to the results of the survey, which were compiled by Circle Research and commissioned by Santa Fe group, overseas assignments that have a duration of between one and three years are the most common, with 62% of relocation assignments covering this period of time.

Yet again the issue of the trailing spouse rears its head and Santa Fe’s research reveals that there are increasing examples of trailing spouses who do not wish to relocate because they have their own career in their home country. In addition to this, the standard of education on offer is also a concern for many couples: “There is also a decreased willingness to accept the disruption to personal and social lives which result from long term assignments. The biggest concern is disruption to children’s education,” it explains.

Other results:

  • The most common relocation destinations in the world for EMEA expatriates were as follows: China (17%), U.S. (11%) and the United Kingdom (9%).
  • The most common relocation destinations for American companies were China (27%), U.S. (22%) and Singapore (8%).
  • APAC’s most common relocation destinations were named as China (26%), Australia (20%) and Singapore (13%).
  • The relocation destinations felt to present greatest challenge were China (17%), India (12%), Russia (7%), and Brazil (7%).
  • Tightened regulatory environments are making it increasingly difficult for companies to obtain the required visas and work permits to relocate their employees.
  • Families have become more reluctant to take long-term assignments abroad.

The Global Mobility Survey is the largest-scale research of its type. The research was conducted with 1,119 respondents throughout the world and covered all main industry sectors.


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